The Democrats' push for reparations will only make things worse
Under the guise of remedying historical sins, the government is stoking racial divisions at every corner. First, there was CRT, then equity, and now a revival of considering reparations. The first time the government tried to pass H.R. 40 to sanction a study and develop proposals for reparations for African-Americans was in 1989. The timing coincided with stagnating outcomes for African-Americans.
Now the House is trying again. Then as now, the inquiry would prove more fruitful if the examination focused on government policy decisions rather than investigating ties among stagnation, slavery, and post-slavery discrimination.
The government's failure to contemplate the combined impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Great Society (1964–1965) counts among the grossest acts of U.S. government negligence. This combo is the root cause of racially disproportionate outcomes that take the greatest toll on African-Americans.
Since 1965, America has added over 80 million residents from Asian, Latino, and African immigrant groups. Throughout history, immigrants have brought homegrown biases and created competition for jobs and other resources. Because almost all immigrants come from nations that give no consideration to anti-racism, biases can be strong, and these affect Americans of diverse races and religions. Blacks bear the brunt of these biases, but this is unaccounted for in government reports and un-championed by social justice activists.
As competitors, immigrants have always forced Americans to up their game. In the case of post-1965 immigrants and their descendants, their competitiveness is enhanced because they qualify as minorities. This gives them the same considerations that African and Native Americans have had since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Before 1980, minorities were about 15% of the population. Today, they are about 40%, and all share equally in the extra reflection minorities can receive when accessing jobs and resources.
Image: Illegal aliens (AKA competition for jobs) flooding into Texas. YouTube screen grab.
Competition can be especially intense for lower-skilled jobs, and the outcome has been horrible for African-Americans. "Low-skill immigration between 1980 and 2000 accounted for 40 percent of the drop in low-skill employment among blacks without a high school degree[.]" Of these, Latino immigrants are the most numerous, but there are also many under-educated, low-skilled immigrants and descendants from Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa.
Male African-Americans face especially vigorous competition from male Latinos. Male Latinos first outnumbered male black workers in 1995. In 2005, it was by 25%, and in 2020, it was by 60%. Latinos are competing well. Since 1980, the average Latino household income has been 20–25% higher than black household income. Workplace competition between blacks and Latinos will continue because there is a high degree of overlap in the skilled and unskilled positions members of both groups choose. Male African-Americans face increased competition from many newcomers because their academic achievement has stagnated while the newcomers' has been ascending.
Newer immigrant groups have always motivated Americans to up their game, but this is not happening with African-Americans. The explanation seems evident. In 1964/1965, the United States dropped the highly prized American value of self-reliance. Government subsidies and dependence have become options that lessen the motivation for academic achievement or working extra hours. Able-bodied Americans who are fine with receiving government subsidies will struggle to compete with motivated newcomers striving for self-reliance. African-Americans are disproportionately represented as welfare recipients and government dependents.
Stagnating outcomes for African-Americans have nothing to do with slavery or post-slavery discrimination. They have everything to do with haphazard policymaking. The government has made it too easy to receive government subsidies and they have been remiss in ignoring the challenges of legal and illegal immigration. Instead of making amends for detrimental policies, legislators are revisiting reparations that perpetuate black victimhood and stoke racial divisions.
Kathleen Brush, Ph.D. is the author of Reparations for All or None.